WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin has decided not to submit a version of its Freedom-class littoral combat ship for the Navy’s next-gen frigate design competition.

The contractor’s move to abandon its bid to become the prime contractors on the FFG(X) deal leaves four rivals in the running — Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal USA, Fincantieri and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

But the world’s largest defense firm still intends to bid on capabilities involved in the FFG(X).

“After careful review, we have decided to focus our attention on the FFG(X) combat system, delivering Lockheed Martin technologies such as the Aegis-derived weapon system, MK 41 Vertical Launching System, anti-submarine warfare processing, and advanced electronic warfare,” the company said in a statement released late Tuesday.

“We will continue to serve as a shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy, and we’re exploring opportunities including unmanned surface vessels and the large surface combatant.”

The news was first reported by USNI on Tuesday.

The FFG(X) grew out of a 2014 requirement for an up-gunned frigate that could survive brutal combat at sea, a problem critics raise about the LCS, a vessel that was developed for sneaky missions near shorelines.

The goal of the new frigate design is to both integrate with, and complement, the carrier strike group and operate as a distributed node in a sensor network, officials say.

Planned capabilities include anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, electromagnetic maneuver warfare and air warfare.

The Navy asked for $1.3 billion for the first FFG(X) hull in 2020 but estimates each subsequent frigate will run closer to $800 million.

David B. Larter in Scotland contributed to this story

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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